Three-wheeling Through Jozi

I love living in Melville because it’s a walkable neighborhood. However, “walkable” is a relative term. I can walk up to 7th Street to meet a friend for dinner, but walking home alone at night is a risk. And although walking from one place to another within Melville is easy, traveling on foot from Melville to any of the nearby suburbs — Parkview, Emmerentia, Greenside etc. — is a mission.

Melville is walkable, but the walkers need a little help. That’s where e-tuktuk comes in.

Tuktuk and driver

An e-tuktuk and its driver, Matthews.

I was introduced to this mode of transport in India, where tuktuks are called auto-rickshaws. I find these little vehicles to be quite charming and exhilarating. So when I heard tuktuks were coming to Melville, I could hardly contain my excitement. What a perfectly quirky (and eco-friendly) addition to my quirky suburb.

The e-tuktuk service is headquartered at Picobella restaurant on 4th Avenue, and runs anywhere within a 5-km radius. This radius encompasses Rosebank, the University of Johannesburg and Witts University campuses, Parkhurst, Parktown and all the other “Park” suburbs, and of course anywhere within Melville and Westdene. The fare is R10 (just over $1) per person per trip within Melville, R20 per trip for the surrounding area.

The service started a few weeks ago and seems to be quickly gaining in popularity. I took my virgin e-tuktuk ride last weekend. I arranged to have the tuktuk fetch me at the Lucky 5 Star and drive me to my favorite shopping strip in Parkview.

There was some confusion with my address and the tuktuk was 30 minutes late. But all was forgiven when Matthews pulled up at the door. His arrival generated lots of excitement.

Tuktuk arrival

It’s hard not to smile when encountering an e-tuktuk, as Lucky proves in this photo. Horst, my landlord, also came out for a look.

I boarded and we were off. Matthews and I chatted away. He was very friendly and seemed unperturbed by the larger, faster vehicles zooming past us. At one point his phone rang and he asked me to answer it for him.

Tuktuk driving

Taking photos in a moving tuktuk is more difficult than I expected.

e-tuktuk

When we reached a quieter street, I whipped out my iPad for some Instagramming.

Kid on bike

We were overtaken by a child on a bicycle. How embarrassing. 

Parkview mielie lady

Cruising past the Parkview mielie lady.

We arrived in Parkview, where I alighted from my chariot to run some errands.

Parkview street

Tyrone Avenue, Parkview.

Parkview shops

My favorite Parkview shop.

Matthews was waiting patiently when I returned 30 minutes later.

Driving home

My moving tuktuk photography improved marginally on the ride home.

Matthews

Tuktuk driver Instagram.

Matthews dropped me back at my door. All in all it was a fun, successful trip, and I’ll definitely call upon the e-tuktuks again. Hopefully they’ve got my address right.

Tuktuk leaving

Bye bye, tuktuk.

Contact e-tuktuk at 082 695 0211, or [email protected].

Read another Melville blogger’s review of e-tuktuk.

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12 Comments

  • Reply campbellisaac December 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    awesome! seems like a great mode of transport for your area. I hope the company does well.

    • Reply 2summers December 5, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Thanks Campbell, I hope so too.

    • Reply UNHAPPY CUSTOMER August 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      E TUC TUC IS A TOTAL RIP-OFF!!! WE WERE TOLD IT WOULD BE R15-OO FOR THE LESS THAN 2.5 KM TOTAL TRIP-WE WERE NOT TOLD OF ANY EXTRA CHARGES-IT ADDED UP TO R60.00-WORKS OUT TO BE R30 A KM!!! AND WE HAD TO SHARE WITH A FREE-LOADER, AND WERE HARASSED ABOUT THE AMOUNT THE AMOUNT OF TIME WE NEEDED TO SHOP-OUR DRIVER REG NO CD62JX GP. THE MANAGERESS RINA, WOULD NOT HELP US ABOUT REFUNDING US AT LEAST HALF THIS AMOUNT-SHE DID NOTHING BUT SCREAM AND PUT THE PHONE DOWN-ALTHOUGH SHE DID ADMIT THAT THE DRIVER SHOULD HAVE TOLD US IT WOULD TOTAL R60 AND NOT R30 THAT WE WERE TOLD AT THE START OF THE TRIP-ITS A TOTAL RIP-OFF AND CONSUMERS SHOULD BE AWARE THIS

  • Reply Gail Wilson December 5, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Thanks Heather will be trying them out soon, looks like fun.

    • Reply 2summers December 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Yeah, it is! Let me know if you’re in the neighborhood.

  • Reply charlotteotter December 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

    What a cool addition to Joburg life. Parkview was always my Saturday morning haunt – love those shops.

    • Reply 2summers December 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Yes, I love Parkview. It’s always so lively.

  • Reply jeangarrell December 5, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Reblogged this on njgarrell.

  • Reply Susan B December 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I’m trying to figure out how something like that would work in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. I wonder if snow tires are an option?

    • Reply 2summers December 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Hmm…I think it could work but maybe only in summer 🙂

  • Reply divyakrishan December 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Ahhh.. reminds me of home (Delhi) .. we call them Auto-rickshaws back there! Maybe its time to ditch my car and go to work in a rick!!!

    • Reply 2summers December 12, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      I first rode an autorickshaw when my mom and I visited Chennai a few years ago. Riding a tuktuk here in Jozi is quite different – a lot calmer 🙂

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